Barcelona warm up with goalfest
Barcelona have warmed up in style for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern with a crushing 8-0 Spanish league victory away to bottom club FC Cordoba. The goals on Saturday afternoon were scored by Ivan Rakitic (42), Luis Suarez (45+2, 50, 88), Lionel Messi (47, 80), Gerard Piqué (64) and Neymar (85, pen) as the Catalans defended their lead in La Liga with three games to play. Real Madrid can move to within two points of Barça when they play Sevilla in the evening.
An 18,280 crowd at Estadio Nuevo Arcángel saw one-way traffic as full-strength Barcelona dominated at will but initially found gaps hard to come by. Two moments of magic broke the deadlock before half-time: Messi's glorious chip set up Rakitic, before Andres Iniesta lobbed the Cordoba defence for Suarez to slot home.
Mascherano, Iniesta and Rakitic subbed off
Barça retained their momentum after the break and Dani Alves delivered pinpoint crosses for Messi (47) and Suarez (50) to head home, taking the Catalans up to 101 league goals for the season. Boss Luis Enrique Javier now brought off Mascherano, Iniesta and Rakitic in readiness for the midweek showdown.
The visitors now eased back a shade but still scored four more goals, Piqué heading home on 64 minutes, Messi combining with Xavi and Suarez to make it six, Neymar slotting home from the spot, and Suarez prodding home after a Xavi shot to round off the scoring. The result means Cordoba go down and Barcelona's morale is soaring.
Barcelona team against Cordoba:
Bravo - Alves, Pique, Mascherano (Mathieu 61), Alba - Iniesta (Xavi 61), Busquets, Rakitic (Pedro 68)- Messi, Suarez, Neymar